Home comforts for excited Cullen ahead of Leeds debut

Joe Cullen (Kieran Cleeves, PDC)

Joe Cullen is relishing the chance to take to the First Direct Arena stage as the Cazoo Premier League visits Leeds on Thursday night.

Bradford's Cullen secured a coveted spot in the eight-player Premier League when he won his first TV title at The Masters in January.

The 32-year-old, nicknamed The Rockstar, was the nightly winner as the Premier League visited Rotterdam a fortnight ago, and faces Jonny Clayton in his opening game in Leeds on Thursday.

Cullen visited the First Direct Arena for the first time on Wednesday as part of the PDC's Bullseye Maths schools initiative, and was left in awe of a venue which will host over 9,000 fans for the Premier League event.

"I can't wait to walk out in Leeds on Thursday," said Cullen. "This is my first time playing in Leeds and I think it will look huge when it's full.

"It's a different layout to a lot of the arenas we play in, it's more like a theatre, and the atmosphere should be fantastic.

"It's an amazing arena and I've been looking forward to this night more than any other since I got into the Premier League.

"It's brilliant to be back. I'm proud to be from Yorkshire and the people up here love their sport, so hopefully the crowd will be behind me.

"It's an exciting time and I'm loving being part of the Premier League - it's nights like this that you want to be involved in.

"It's ironic how the fixtures have worked out - I played Jonny in his local event in Cardiff and now he gets to play me in a venue that's local for me.

"It's going well so far, the new format has been really good and it was fantastic to win in Rotterdam. Hopefully I can get another win in Leeds on Thursday."

Whilst Cullen has been on the PDC circuit for more than a decade, his Masters triumph has seen him finally establish his status amongst the elite alongside the likes of Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price and Michael van Gerwen.

"The Masters win was great and that's led to bigger things for me like being in the Premier League," said Cullen.

"It's been an ambition of mine to be part of the Premier League and I love it. When you look around the practice room and see the quality of these players, it's brilliant.

"Playing in these massive arenas in the Premier League is brilliant experience for me and I'm loving it."

Cazoo Premier League
Night 9 – First Direct Arena, Leeds
Thursday April 7

Michael Smith v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen Bye (Gary Anderson withdrawn)
Joe Cullen v Jonny Clayton
James Wade v Gerwyn Price

Smith/Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Cullen/Clayton v Wade/Price